Archive for the ‘Saints of the 610s’ Category

Feast of Sts. Radegunda and Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus (December 14)   1 comment

Above:  Venantius Fortunatus Reading His Poems to Radegonda, by Lawrence Alma-Tameda

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT RADEGUNDA (518/520-AUUST 13, 587)

Thuringian Roman Catholic Princess, Deaconess, and Nun

Her feast transferred from August 13

mentor and patron of

SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTI(AN)US FORTUNATUS (CIRCA 530-CIRCA 610)

Roman Catholic Poet, Hymn Writer, and Bishop of Poiters

His feast = December 14

Different spellings of the names of Saints Radegunda and Venantius, who have different feast days on the Roman Catholic calendar, exist.  Despite the separate feast days, one cannot properly tell the story of one saint without recounting the story of the other.   I merge the feasts here, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, for that reason.

On a light note, perhaps you, O reader, will agree that, regardless of whether one prefers Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus or Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, he had the best name of any saint, canonized or otherwise.  The name rolls off one’s tongue nicely.

St. Radegunda, born in 518/520, was a princess of Thuringia, in modern-day Germany.  In 531 the Franking king Clothar/Clotaire/Lothair I (reigned 511-561) conquered Thuringia and killed most of the royal family.  He forced Radegunda to marry him the following year.  This was a political move, far from a love match.  St. Radegunda led a pious and simple life; she avoided extravagance and performed many good works while she endured her marriage.  She fled from that childless union in 550, after her husband had ordered the murder of her brother, thereby ending the male line in the Thuringian royal family.  The Church protected St. Radegunda, and Médard, the Bishop of Noyon, ordained her a deaconess.

St. Venantius Honorius Clement(ian)us Fortunatus, born in Treviso, Italy, circa 530, became a great Latin poet.  He, educated in Ravenna and Milan, traveled in Gaul and southern Germany.  (Contradictory stores provided various reasons for the road trip.)  He settled in Poitiers, at the Frankish royal court, and befriended Queen Radegunda.

In 560 St. Radegunda, deaconess and a former queen, founded the Convent of the Holy Cross, the first convent in Europe, at Poitiers.  The name of the first abbess was Agnes.  St. Radegunda lived there as a nun and devoted herself to good works.  St. Venantius became a priest and served as the chaplain of the convent.  He also composed Latin hymns about topics ranging from the cross of Christ to St. Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God.  He also wrote poetic praise of wine.  In 569 the Roman Emperor Justin II (reigned 565-574) gave the convent a piece of the alleged True Cross.  St. Venantius composed Vexilla Regis (still part of the Roman Catholic rites for Holy Week) for the occasion.

St. Radegunda died at the convent on August 13, 587.

St. Venantius became the Bishop of Poitiers in 599.  He served in that position for the rest of us life, until circa 610.

St. Venantius left behind a fine literary legacy.  He composed biographies of St. Martin of Tours, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Germanus of Paris, St. Radegunda, and other figures.  Friend St. Gregory of Tours encouraged our saint to publish his poetry.  St. Venantius did, and blessed generations of Christians.  English translations of some of those texts have included the following:

  1. “Welcome, Happy Morning;”
  2. “The Royal Banners Forward Go;”
  3. “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle;”
  4. “See the Destined Day Arise;” and
  5. the Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost versions of “Hail Thee, Festival Day.”

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Loving God, who teaches us that we depend on you and each other,

we thank you for Sts. Radegunda and Venantius Honorius Clementi(an)us Fortunatus,

who helped each other and many others, and whose intertwined legacies have endured.

May their examples inspire us to support each other in holy living, for your glory and the common good.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11

Psalm 64

1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Luke 1:26-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN AND ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCHS; AND SAINTS AGATHO, LEO II, AND BENEDICT II, BISHOPS OF ROME; DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ALBERT DICKINSON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICIAN; HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, JACOB VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS SON, WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS BROTHER, CARL ANTON VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS DAUGHTER, LISETTE (LIZETTE) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG; AND HER SISTER, AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Feast of St. Julia of Corsica (May 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Western Europe in 600 C.E.

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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SAINT JULIA OF CORSICA (SIXTH OR SEVENTH CENTURY-CIRCA 616-620)

Martyr at Corsica

Eastern Orthodox feast day = July 16

St. Julia came from a noble and Christian family of Carthage, in modern-day Tunisia.  In 616 Vandals invaded Carthage and abducted our saint.  They also sold her into slavery.  A pagan named Eusebius purchased her.  One day no later than 620 Eusebius ordered St. Julia to participate in a pagan festival.  She refused.  Eusebius then order her beaten, her hair ripped out of her head, and her crucified at Cape Corso, Corsica.

St. Julia is the patron saint of torture victims, of Corsica, and of Brescia, Leghorn, and Livorno in Italy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS TALLIS AND HIS STUDENT AND COLLEAGUE, WILLIAM BYRD, ENGLISH COMPOSERS AND ORGANISTS; AND JOHN MERBECKE, ENGLISH COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DITLEF GEORGSON RISTAD, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, LITURGIST, AND EDUCATOR

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love

in the heart of your holy martyr Saint Julia of Corsica:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 715

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Feast of St. Carthage the Younger (May 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Carthage the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CARTHAGE THE YOUNGER (555-CIRCA 637)

Irish Abbot-Bishop

Also known as Saint Mochuda

Mochuda, a swineherd near Castlemaine, entered the world in County Kerry, Ireland, in 555.  He became a monk under the tutelage of abbot bishop St. Carthage the Elder (feast day = March 5), related to Irish royalty.  Mochuda became so identified with his mentor that the became known as St. Carthage the Younger.  Our saint, a priest and (from 580) a hermit at Kiltallagh, founded the monastery in Raithean, County Offaly, circa 590.  He, the abbot-bishop of the Fereal district, wrote the rule of his monks and composed a 580-line metrical poem.  In 635, due to regional politics, our saint and his 800 monks went into exile from Raithean and arrived in Lismore.  There they founded a new monastery, which became known as a center of learning.  St. Carthage the Younger died at Lismore circa 637.  He was about 82 years old.

Contrary to what many Protestants continue to argue, monastics are not useless.  All one has to do to refute that false argument from a historical perspective is to consider the legacies of evangelism, health care, and education, among other factors, in the monastic past.  Modern-day church-operated orphanages and children’s homes perform functions in the monastic legacy.  Furthermore, if one truly affirms the efficacy of prayer, one should give thanks that certain men and women devote their lives to prayer.  Orders of nuns and hermits, for example, spend their lives in intercessory prayer.

St. Carthage the Younger was indeed quite useful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Carthage the Younger,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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Feast of St. Vitalis of Gaza (April 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Vitalis of Gaza

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA (DIED CIRCA 625)

Monk, Hermit, and Martyr

Alternative feast day = January 11

April 22 is the feast day of St. Vitalis of Gaza in the Eastern Orthodox churches.  In the Roman Catholic Church his feast day is January 11.  St. Vitalis is the patron saint of day-laborers and prostitutes.  The story of the final years of his life explains why.

Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.

–St. Vitalis of Gaza

In the sixtieth year of his life St. Vitalis left his monastery in Gaza for Alexandria, Egypt.  There he ministered to prostitutes, at the risk of his reputation and his life.  He worked as a day-laborer and, most nights, hired a prostitute–so she would not sin sexually that night.  He ministered to those prostitutes who listened to him, prayed with them, and led many of them out of that life.  Pimps did not approve of this.  Circa 625 one pimp hit St. Vitalis over the head then stabbed him.  Our saint returned to his hut, where he began to pray then died.  Many former prostitutes honored him.

In the Gospels our Lord and Savior came under scrutiny for socializing with notorious sinners, including prostitutes.  The sick, he said, were the ones who needed to visit a doctor.  St. Vitalis followed the example of Jesus in Alexandria.  Because he died for his faith, St. Vitalis was a martyr.

The challenge of the life of St. Vitalis of Gaza and the teaching of Jesus germane to this post is to point out the extent to which we shun those to whom God sends us as agents of grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 10:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALEN POSTEL, FOUNDER OF THE POOR DAUGHTERS OF MERCY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ALFRED TAYLOR RYGH, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN MOORE WALKER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of St. Vitalis of Gaza,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage

to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of Sts. John Cassian and John Climacus (February 29)   2 comments

Vatican Flag

Above:  The Vatican Flag

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN CASSIAN (360-435)

Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, and Spiritual Writer

His feast = February 29

influenced

SAINT JOHN CLIMACUS (CIRCA 570 OR 579-MARCH 649)

Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Spiritual Writer

Also known as Saint John of the Ladder, Saint John Scholasticus, and Saint John the Sinaita

His feast transferred from March 30

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st-john-cassian

Above:  St. John Cassian

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Cassian was an influential figure in both Eastern and Western Christianity.  He, from what is now Romania, entered the world in 360.  Our saint came from a wealthy family and received an excellent education.  For about three years he and Germanus, a friend, were monks at Bethlehem.  Next the duo pursued monastic life in Egypt.  Circa 399 they and about 300 other monks left for Constantinople after St. Theophilus, the Pope of Alexandria (reigned 384-412) and successor of St. Mark the Apostle, wrote a letter opposing Origen‘s noncorporeal understanding of God.  The monks sought the protection of the Alexandrian Pope’s rival, St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  At the imperial capital St. John Cassian became a deacon.  In 404, following the deposition of St. John Chrysostom, St. John Cassian traveled to Rome to defend the patriarch to the Bishop of Rome.

St. John Cassian spent the rest of his life in the West.  He, ordained to the priesthood, settled at Marseilles, Gaul.  Circa 415 our saint founded a monastery and a convent at that city.  He also wrote about monasticism in the Institutes and the Conferences.  St. Benedict of Nursia (circa 480-circa 550) was so impressed with the Conferences that he listed it as one of the books for reading aloud after supper.

the-ladder-of-divine-ascent

Above:  Icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Cassian, who died at Marseilles in 435, influenced St. John Climacus, born in Syria circa 579.  He became a monk at Mt. Sinai at the age of 16 years.  Eventually our saint became an anchorite then an abbot there.  Finally, shortly before his death, St. John Climacus resigned his abbotcy to become a hermit again.  His second name, “Climacus,” came from his influential book, translated into English as The Ladder to Paradise and as The Ladder of Divine Ascent.  He wrote of the 30 steps to moral perfection, with each step corresponding to a year of Christ’s life from birth to baptism.  The steps were:

  1. On the renunciation of the world;
  2. On detachment;
  3. On exile or pilgrimage;
  4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience;
  5. On painstaking and true repentance which constitute the life of holy convicts; and about the prison;
  6. On remembrance of death;
  7. On mourning which causes joy;
  8. On freedom from anger and on meekness;
  9. On remembrance of wrongs;
  10. On slander or calumny;
  11. On talkativeness and silence;
  12. On lying;
  13. On despondency;
  14. On the clamorous, yet wicked monster–the stomach;
  15. On incorruptible purity and chastity to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat;
  16. On the love of money or avarice;
  17. On poverty (that hastens heavenward);
  18. On insensibility, that is, deadening the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body;
  19. On sleep, prayer, and psalm-singing in the chapel;
  20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil and how to practice it;
  21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice;
  22. On the many forms of vainglory;
  23. On mad pride, and, in the same Step, on unclean blasphemous thoughts;
  24. On meekness, simplicity, guilelessness which come not from nature but from habit, and about malice;
  25. On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual feeling;
  26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues;
  27. On holy solitude of body and soul;
  28. On holy and blessed prayer, mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer;
  29. Concerning heaven on earth, or godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection; and
  30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues.

Climacus, who died in March 649, became an influential figure in both Eastern and Western monasticism via his book.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF BLESSED KAZIMIERZ TOMAS SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom, and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servants Sts. John Cassian and John Climacus,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth we have seen

in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of St. Mellitus (April 24)   1 comment

England 600

Above:  England, 600 C.E.

Image Source = Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1967)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT MELLITUS (DIED APRIL 24, 624)

Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury

We know little about the early life of St. Mellitus.  He was probably Italian and of noble birth.  He might also have been the Abbot of St. Andrew, Rome, leader of the monastery to which St. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Gregory I “the Great” had belonged.  We do know, however, that St. Gregory I, as the Bishop of Rome, had sent St. Augustine and a team of missionaries a few years before he, at the request of St. Augustine (then the Archbishop of Canterbury) another team of missionaries.  The leader of that second team was St. Mellitus.

St. Mellitus became an important figure in the English Church in the 600s.  St. Augustine consecrated him a bishop in 604.  St. Mellitus, apostle to the East Saxons, established his headquarters at London.  He had to go into exile for at least a year in the late 610s because he refused to give sacramental bread to pagan princes.  His eventual successor (after decades of a vacancy) as bishop in that region was St. Cedd of Lastingham.  St. Mellitus became the third Archbishop of Canterbury in 619.  His tenure, during most which he was prone to bad health, was mostly uneventful.  He died in office on April 24, 624.

Foundational figures fascinate me, for I know that I am fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants.  My faith has much to do with that St. Mellitus, who left his homeland, settled in a foreign country, and engaged in missionary work there.  My ancestry is mostly British, so I owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of British Christianity, especially Roman Catholic missionaries to England in the late 500s and early 600s.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 17, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT, DESERT FATHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERARD AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN MOROCCO

THE FEAST OF EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS, UNITARIAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Mellitus,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of England.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 716

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Feast of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, Caelin, St. Cedd of Lastingham, St. Cynibil of Lastingham, St. Chad of Mercia, St. Vitalian, St. Adrian of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, and St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (March 2)   4 comments

England in 600 CE

Above:  England in 600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 590-AUGUST 31, 651)

Celtic Missionary Bishop

His feast transferred from August 31

mentor of

CAELIN (600S)

Celtic Priest

brother of

SAINT CEDD OF LASTINGHAM (CIRCA 620-OCTOBER 26, 664)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Bishop of Essex, and Abbot of Lastingham

His feast transferred from October 26

brother of

SAINT CYNIBIL OF LASTINGHAM (CIRCA 622-664)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest and Monk

His feast = March 2

brother of

SAINT CHAD (A.K.A. CEADDA) OF MERCIA (DIED MARCH 2, 672)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of York/the Northumbrians and of Lichfield/the Mercians and the Lindsey People

His feast day = March 2

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SAINT VITALIAN (DIED JANUARY 27, 672)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 27

consecrated 

THEODORE OF TARSUS (CIRCA 602-SEPTEMBER 19, 690)

Roman Catholic Monk and Archbishop of Canterbury

His feast transferred from September 19

worked with

SAINT ADRIAN (A.K.A. HADRIAN) OF CANTERBURY (DIED JANUARY 9, 710)

Roman Catholic Abbot of Ss. Peter and Paul’s, Canterbury

His feast transferred from January 9

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SAINT CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 635-MARCH 20, 687)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Monk, Hermit, Priest, and Bishop of Lindisfarne

His feast transferred from March 20

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INTRODUCTION

Preparation for this post began with one name–St. Chad of Mercia.  As I took notes and followed leads, the number of saints, canonized and otherwise, increased to nine.  I could have gone beyond that, but (A) I had already written about some of the other related saints, and (B) I chose to draw the proverbial line somewhere.  I also thought seriously about covering the material in more than one post, but I decided that writing just one post would maintain the unity of the narrative, with its overlapping lives of saints.  I therefore invite you, O reader, to follow the proverbial bouncing ball and to draw inspiration from the lives of great men of God as you learn about them.

SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 590-AUGUST 31, 651)

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Above:  St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Image in the Public Domain

Augustine was the Apostle of Kent, but Aidan was the Apostle of the English.

–Joseph Lightfoot (1828-1889), Anglican Bishop of Durham (1879-1889)

The best saint with whom to begin the narrative is St. Aidan of Lindisfarne.  The historical record contains little information about his early life.  It does tell us that he was Irish, ascetic, and, from an early age, a monk at Iona.

St. Aidan belonged to the Celtic Church, which preceded the Roman Catholic Church in the British Isles for centuries and existed alongside it for decades until the Synod of Whitby (664).  St. Oswald, the King of Northumbria from 634 to 641/642, was a devout Christian ruler, but a large proportion of his subjects consisted of pagans.  He contacted the great abbey at Iona and requested missionaries.  The first missionary bishop Iona sent was one Corman, who employed harsh tactics, alienated many people, failed thoroughly, and declared that converting the people was impossible.  Iona recalled him and replaced him with St. Aidan in 635.  St. Aidan, as the first Bishop of Lindisfarne (635-651), with the seat of his see at Bamburgh, used gentle tactics of evangelism.  He and his fellow missionaries converted many people, founded many churches, and built schools and monasteries.  He undertook many missionary journeys in Great Britain.  St. Aidan died at Bamburgh on August 31, 651, after returning from one such journey.

FOUR HOLY BROTHERS:  CAELIN, SAINT CEDD OF LASTINGHAM, SAINT CYNIBIL OF LASTINGHAM, AND SAINT CHAD OF MERCIA

St. Aidan taught four Northumbrian brothers at Lindisfarne.  They were Caelin (600s), St. Cedd of Lastingham (circa 620-October 26, 664), St. Cynibil of Lastingham (622-664), and St. Chad of Mercia (died March 2, 672).  These brothers continued their studies under St. Egbert of Lindisfarne (circa 639-729) in Ireland and became priests in the Celtic Church.

St. Cedd

Above:  St. Cedd of Lastingham

Image in the Public Domain

St. Aidan’s successor as Bishop of Lindisfarne was St. Finan of Lindisfarne (in office 651-661).  In 653 Bishop St. Finan sent four priests, including St. Cedd, to engage in missionary work in Northumbria.  The efforts proved successful, leading to the conversion of many people and the building of churches and monasteries.  In 654 St. Finan consecrated St. Cedd as the Bishop of Essex, with the seat of the see at London.  Four years later St. Cedd expanded his portfolio by founding the abbey at Lastingham and becoming the abbot thereof.

St. Cedd’s three brothers assisted in this founding.  Caelin, a court chaplain, arranged for the royal donation of land.  St. Cedd started a forty-day-long fast to purify the site of the monastery prior to construction.  He held up well until the twenty-ninth day.  St. Cynibil took up the fast on the thirtieth day.  St. Cedd recalled his other brother, St. Chad, from Ireland to help with the founding also.

St. Cynibil lived as a monk at Lastingham until 664, when he died of plague.

Ss. Cedd and Chad attended the Synod of Whitby (664) and accepted its result.  Rome and its customs were supreme.  St. Cedd died of plague on October 26, 664, during a visit to the monastery at Lastingham.  St. Chad succeeded him as abbot.

That year St. Chad became the Bishop of the Northumbrians, with his seat at York.  There was already a bishop-designate, St. Wilfrid (lived 634-709), but, for political reasons, King Oswiu of Northumbria (reigned 642-670) chose St. Chad.  St. Wilfrid, ordained in France, arrived to find a rival claimant to his see.  The resolution of this dispute fell to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus.

SAINT VITALIAN, BISHOP OF ROME (DIED JANUARY 27, 672), AND THEODORE OF TARSUS (CIRCA 602-SEPTEMBER 19, 690)

St. Vitalian

Above:  St. Vitalian

Image in the Public Domain

Historical records tell us little regarding the early life of St. Vitalian.  We do know that his birthplace was Segni, near Rome, and that his father’s name was Anastasius.  Those records are mostly silent regarding the saint’s life prior to becoming the Pope.

St. Vitalian’s papacy started on July 30, 657, and ended with his death on January 27, 672.  His predecessor was St. Eugene I (reigned 654-657), a man with a conciliatory spirit, especially regarding the Eastern Roman Empire and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  St. Vitalian succeeded where St. Eugene I could not; he restored good relations between the Holy See and Constantinople.  Later during his papacy St. Vitalian found an opening (due to internal politics in Constantinople) to insist on what was not previously politically feasible:  an unambiguous statement that Jesus had two wills–not one or three.  Closer to home, St. Vitalian established the singing school at the Lateran to train singers for the new, more elaborate papal rites.

St. Vitalian sought to fill the vacant See of Canterbury.  Deusdedit (reigned 655-664) had died.  The see remained vacant for four years.  Twice St. Vitalian asked St. Adrian (of Canterbury), who declined, claiming to be unworthy.  St. Adrian, a native of northern Africa, had become the Abbot of Narida, Naples, at a young age.  He was indeed an accomplished, capable, and humble man.  Wighard, Archbishop-designate from 666, died of plague in 667.

Theodore of Tarsus

Above:  Theodore of Tarsus

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Finally the Holy Father found his man in Theodore of Tarsus (circa 602-690).  Theodore was a native of Tarsus, Cilicia, Asia Minor, the hometown of St. Paul the Apostle.  He was also a learned monk who had fled his home region because of Islamic conquests in the Eastern Roman Empire.  In 667 Theodore lived in an Eastern Rite monastic community at Rome.  He was also in the sixties.  Theodore had many miles to go before he slept, however.  On March 26, 668, at Rome, St. Vitalian consecrated him the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Pope sent St. Adrian (of Canterbury) and St. Benedict Biscop with him to England.  These three men–Theodore of Tarsus, St. Adrian of Canterbury, and St. Benedict Biscop–left positive and long-term legacies in England.

THEODORE OF TARSUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY (668-690)

England in 700 CE

Above:  England in 700 C.E.

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Theodore of Tarsus was among the most important Archbishops of Canterbury.  He arrived in England in May 669 to find a divided Church, for the Synod of Whitby (664) by which the Roman Catholic Church took over the Celtic Church, remained controversial.  Kingdoms divided the island further.  He had much work to do to create a sense of unity.

Immediately the Archbishop addressed the dispute regarding Ss. Chad and Wilfrid.  He deposed St. Chad, declared his consecration irregular and therefore null, and installed St. Wilfrid.  St. Chad took this well and with humility, declaring that he had never thought himself worthy of the office anyway.  Then he returned to the abbey at Lastingham.  This humility impressed Theodore, who re-consecrated him and made him the Bishop of the Mercians and the Lindsey People, with the seat of the see at York.  From 669 to 672 St. Chad fulfilled his duties faithfully.  He died of plague at Lichfield on March 2, 672.  Among his eventual successors was St. Wilfrid, who served in the post from 691 to 709.

Theodore of Tarsus left his mark on the English Church.  He filled vacant sees, created new dioceses, and reorganized the Church.  Along the way he became a party to disputes, including one with St. Wilfrid, whose Northumbrian diocese he divided.  The Archbishop, being a human being, could never please all of the people all of the time, but he did win widespread respect.  The Venerable Bede wrote that Theodore was “the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed.”  Theodore died at Canterbury on September 19, 690.  He was 88 years old.

SAINT ADRIAN OF CANTERBURY IN ENGLAND

Gaul in 628 C.E.

Above:  Gaul in 628 C.E.

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Theodore of Tarsus collaborated with St. Adrian of Canterbury (died January 9, 710).  St. Adrian, whom some sources list as St. Hadrian, arrived in England in 671.  Ebroin, the perfidious Mayor of the Palace in Neustria, in Merovingian France, detained St. Adrian for about two years.  The Mayor of the Palace claimed that the saint was on a secret mission for the Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II (reigned 641-668).  Of course our saint was not on any such mission.  Furthermore, Ebroin’s timing was bad, even considering the fact that news traveled more slowly in the 600s than it does in 2015.  Constans II died under suspicious circumstances on July 15, 668.  But who needs facts, right?  Eventually Ebroin released St. Adrian.

The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed St. Adrian the Abbot of Ss. Peter and Paul’s, Canterbury, in 671, succeeding St. Benedict Biscop.  St. Adrian advised and assisted Theodore of Tarsus in bringing liturgical unity to the English Church.  The abbot, a well-educated man, made the School of Canterbury the center of learning in England and established other institutions of learning in England.  From these schools emerged scholars and missionaries who renewed church life in England, France, and Germany.

SAINT CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 635-687)

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne also helped to bring peace to the English Church after the Synod of Whitby (664).  He was probably a native of the environs of Melrose, for, as a young person, he tended sheep near the monastery there.  In 651, when fifteen or sixteen years old, St. Cuthbert reported a vision upon the event of the death of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne.  The young man claimed to have seen angels carrying St. Aidan’s soul to Heaven.  This experience prompted St. Cuthbert to join the monastery at Melrose that year.  There he remained until 664 when St. Eata (died October 26, 686), the Abbot of Melrose from 651 to 678 (and a protegé of St. Aidan), sent St. Cuthbert to Lindisfarne to introduce Roman Catholic customs there.  He also evangelized effectively and demonstrated a strong devotion to the Mass, for he could not celebrate it without tears.  In 676, with permission from the Abbot of Lindisfarne, St. Cuthbert became a hermit and began to deepen his contemplative life.  His first hermitage was the site known today as St. Cuthbert’s Cave.  St. Cuthbert’s’ long-term hermitage was a site on Farne Island, however.

Circumstances removed St. Cuthbert from Farne Island briefly.  In 686 Church officials persuaded him to succeed St. Eata (Bishop of Lindisfarne from 678 to 685 then Bishop of Hexham from 685 to 686) as Bishop of Lindisfarne.  St. Cuthbert’s episcopate was brief.  At Christmas 686 he, knowing that he was dying, resigned and returned to Farne Island.  He died there on March 20, 687.

CONCLUSION

The legacies of these nine saints (not all of them canonized) echo down the corridors of time.  These were foundational figures.  I, as a Christian and, more specifically, an Episcopalian, stand on their shoulders.  These men built up and renewed the Church, to which I belong.

The work of building up and renewing the Church is never finished.  This is especially true in the global West, where much of Christianity is declining and pockets of it are falling into frightened fundamentalism and hateful phobias targeted at people.  Between the extremes of the right (where too much is literal and fixed) and the left (where too much is metaphorical and relative) one finds a middle way of truth and of love for God without denying tolerance, intellectualism, and science.  That broad path of faithful union of healthy spirituality with secular knowledge and respect for the dignity of those who are different also exists in Christian tradition.  It is the best way forward for the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR

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Almighty God, we praise you, for your servants

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne,

Caelin,

St. Cedd of Lastingham,

St. Cynibil of Lastingham,

St. Chad of Mercia,

St. Vitalian,

St. Adrian of Canterbury,

Theodore of Tarsus, and

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church,

and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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